Sometimes you just have to chuckle. An acquaintance from New York City this week cautioned me against opening our bedroom window at night because of the risk from all those white supremacists out in the West.
A more common misguided concern about our lives in remote Wyoming is that we must find it difficult to get groceries. I politely explain that, while we do live 15 miles away (not a block, as in Brooklyn), there is a good grocery store in town.
Proprietor Steve Williams calls SuperFoods a “country store.” This is true, strictly speaking. But the cracker-barrel gestalt must have gone away more than 40 years ago, when the Grubbs split off the grocery business from the rest of the old Dubois Mercantile general store.
They reopened it in the former bowling alley up the road. This tips you off that SuperFoods is a supermarket, not really a “country store”—and a surprisingly large one for a town the size of Dubois.
But it still is a small-town store, or as Steve’s business card puts it, “Your friendly home-town grocer.” To survive, he has to meet two challenges: Competition from the larger supermarkets down-county in Lander and Riverton, and what he called the “Tale of Two Cities” problem.
“There is the crazy busy summer months when Dubois mushrooms to over 3,000 people and then shrinks back down to 950 or so when the tourists and 2nd home owners leave,” he wrote, in an open letter to the community prompted by some critical posts on Facebook. “How does a business triple their staff and capacity and cut back by 70% in the winter?” A motel can close some rooms in the slow season. But can the supermarket shut down from Monday through Wednesday?
Superfoods’ response has not been to cut the quality or quantity of goods in the slower months, let alone eliminating open days. Quite the contrary.
A few weeks ago, I comparison shopped while running other errands in Riverton. The prices on the produce were not uniformly lower at Smith’s or Safeway, and the quality was no better. Safeway didn’t even have any fresh ginger root (I inquired of the produce manager), which I never have trouble finding at Superfoods.
Yes, pistachio nuts were less expensive down county, but the stuff you can’t wait to buy was not.
And among the 20,000 items Steve says he has in stock, I’m seeing more of those tasty gourmet condiments you wouldn’t expect to find in the back-and-beyond.
(If what I’m after is elk or venison or even smoked mozzarella, of course there’s Wind River Meats just up the road.)
We used to take hour-long trips down county with our big cooler to buy produce in Riverton. No more.
Dubois SuperFoods may not have the rare mushrooms or huge bins of fresh green beans we could find in a Korean vegetable store in Brooklyn. But even if I can’t always find exactly what I want, what I do find is usually fine–even in the slow season.
© Lois Wingerson, 2016
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